Watch Audra McDonald Reprise Billie Holiday Role on West End in 'Lady Day at Emerson's'

By Ian Holubiak on Jan 19, 2016 01:51 PM EST
2014 Tony Awards - Press Room Audra McDonald winner of the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for 'Lady Day' poses in the press room during the 68th Annual Tony Awards on June 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo : Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

A six-time Tony Award-winner, Audra McDonald is set to star as Billie Holiday in her upcoming West End debut in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill. The production will begin performances June 25, preceding its official opening July 5 at Wyndham's Theatre, where it will run through September 3.

Lady Day at Emerson's began previews at Broadway's Circle in the Square in 2014. It ran for a total of 173 performances and 20 previews and was initially set for 70 shows during a 10-week limited engagement. The production, which was written by Lanie Robertson and directed by Lonny Price, examines Holiday's short but illustrious career and life story.

The production is set in a Philadelphia bar in 1959 and recounts Billie's last performance, taking place a mere four months before her death. Ms. Holliday died at the age of 44.

The narrative will follow the songs that made Lady Day famous, including "God Bless the Child," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit" and "Taint Nobody's Biz-ness."

While the production made its New York debut off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in 1986, Audra McDonald's role as Billie Holiday, also, won her a record-breaking sixth Tony in 2014.

News of her restaging as Ms. Holiday comes after an announcement that Ms. McDonald would go on a three month hiatus from her run in the most anticipated musical Shuffle Along, Or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.

Shuffle Along is poised to open in the spring. Ms. McDonald is anticipated to return to her role after Lady Day in the fall and remain in production through 2017.

And as a matter of fact, Ms. McDonald will also be a part of an HBO exclusive presentation singing the same role. The premiere is scheduled to debut Saturday, March 12 and was filmed before a live audience at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans. The special features McDonald in her history-making, tour de force performance as the jazz icon.

So without further ado, here is a preview of said HBO exclusive coming soon.

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TagsAudra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Billie Holiday

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